For a few years now, I have been waiting for this: an official Google Maps Flash API (based on ActionScript 3). You heard it right, instead of using one of the many other solutions which tapped into the tiling servers of the various mapping providers, this is the real deal. And on the surface it looks great.
It is also interesting to hear the Google Maps team talk about Flash on their blog, and discuss why they chose to do this project. In the post they maintain that performance is a big part of it, and that with Flash, the smoothness and speed of the mapping component are much better. From just playing with the demo they put together on their blog, I agree. The tiles load very quickly and the transitions are very smooth. It also integrates video very nicely. Obviously this isn’t to say that the current Ajax implementation is bad, but the Flash version definitely gives the map that little extra polish.
It is great to see Google realizing the benefits of the Flash platform. (I think they got bitten by the bug when they started Street View.) If you are hoping to see more from them, please show your support for this project and download the SDK and start playing with maps in Flash today.